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Kung Fu vs. Dracula – Part II

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

…Something started pounding the wall next to me. My girlfriend screamed, digging her fingernails into my arm. Strobe lights went berserk, flashing the walls with images of demons. That haunting kill, kill, kill, sound effect that’s on Friday the 13th started playing. The walls pounded again. The floor shook. Demons shrieked. People were cursing, begging to get out. A human stampede was imminent. Ghost-lady’s voice told us Bellazar, the vampire demon was deeply upset and one of us had to die. A black man behind me said, “Oh hell no, not me!” and he bolted from the room. Suddenly, two arms grabbed my shoulders and began sliding around my neck. I didn’t think; just reacted. I twisted free from my date and drove two elbows into Bellazar’s stomach. I heard “umph” and felt his hot breath on my neck. I then clutched his elbow with one hand and his shoulder with the other and flipped him over my back. I had no idea vampires knew so many curse words. A loud crash followed by more cursing and groaning, then something ripped. Ghost-lady’s lighter flicked on and she demanded to know what was going on. She didn’t sound very ghost-like anymore. Bellazar paused long enough in his profanity marathon to scream, “Someone tried to kill me!” and then continued with his demonic vocabulary. I grabbed my girlfriend, pulled her close, and moved toward the exit but she screamed. I had grabbed the wrong girl.

In absolute darkness, I spun around groping for her. People were falling down, running into walls. Others stepped on Bellazar; he cried. Women screamed. Men shouted. The noise level was deafening. The lights burst on and everyone froze–until they saw the vampire demon lying on the floor. He had part of a black curtain tangled around his ankle, which had ripped down when he fell. It flared around him like a cape. Five other demon-dudes had been hiding behind the curtain. Now they just stood there slack-jawed staring at their slain leader covered in blood – whether it was fake or real, no one cared. Someone shouted “Oh, Lord he’s dead!” then a frenzied sea of people stormed the exit. I had to move or get trampled.

Outside, the fresh air hit me like a blast of cold water. Everyone scattered. Sirens blared. The cops were running to the house. Michael Jackson stopped singing. Children were crying. The people waiting to get in started cheering. They thought it was part of the show. I joined some friends then hooked up with my girlfriend.

She was not happy.

I didn’t get it. I just saved her from Bellazar and she wasn’t happy. Neither was anyone else, however. I learned that park officials shut the house down for an hour and poor Bellazar had to receive minor medical attention.
So, the moral to this tale? If you want to know if you’re learning Kung Fu, see how you react when you’re frightened.

No, I do not condone trashing haunted houses. I suggest not going in the first place. Beating up demons, however, I’m OK with.

Oh, my girlfriend ditched me after that. What’s the deal with chicks and vampires? Forget it guys, the girl always chooses the vampire.

 

[reposted for the holidays!]

 

Kung Fu vs. Dracula – Part I

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

[reposted for the holidays!]

Students often ask, “When does Kung Fu become natural?” or “How do I know if I really know it?”

My answer: visit a haunted house.

One October, my church youth group went to the Louisiana State Fair. It was an awesome trip. My favorite girlfriend of all time (except, of course, until my wife came along) and I walked the entire park arm-in-arm, intoxicated with the alluring aroma of funnel cakes, corndogs, and cotton candy. We rode every ride and saved the haunted house for nightfall.

Standing in line with a hundred other people, we anxiously waited to step through the spider web-covered door and tour the dark two-story monster-filled mansion. The wooden house with its boarded windows leaned left as if about to fall over, and the full moon spilled eerie shadows across the moldy-green roof. Michael Jackson’s Thriller was playing over the loud speaker and Vincent Price’s diabolical laugh echoed through the park. You could hear the wicked buzz of chainsaws from inside the house and the victims’ screams. Five people in front of us bailed out of line after that. At the exit, girls came out with teary mascara-stained faces and their boyfriends came out pale with red fingernail marks streaking down their forearms. One older woman (she was probably 30) fainted and had to be carried out by two burly ghosts.

My girlfriend hugged my arm as we stepped closer to the entrance. Her body trembled. What a rush. We were standing at the edge of a nightmare, ready to cross the river Styx. I handed Freddy Kruger our tickets. We ducked under the webs and stepped inside. The floor creaked beneath our feet.

Led by a ghost woman holding a lighter, about fifteen of us followed her flickering light down a narrow hallway and squeezed inside a tiny room. The smell of sweat was thick. The walls seemed to pulse with everyone’s fearful breaths. Ghost-lady said we were about to step into hell. If we did what she said, we’d survive. She started to say something else when everything went instantly black.

OK. Now I’m a little freaked-out. I’d studied KF for three years and I guess I hadn’t been startled since I’d began. That was about to change…

The Ninja

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

One year into opening Tyler Kung Fu, I had the privilege of meeting a ninja-well, sort of.

Shuffling through paperwork one Tuesday morning in April I answered the phone, and on the other end of the line was a ninja. The conversation went like this:

“Good morning, Tyler Kung Fu & Fitness.”

“Yes, are you the sifu? I must speak only to him.” The caller spoke with an urgent whisper, as if he wanted no one around him to hear his conversation. I couldn’t resist. I whispered back, even glanced around my empty office to be sure no one was listening to me.

“Yes, I am he.”

“You are the sifu? What is your name?”

I told him.

“Ah, yes,” he seemed to approve.

Unknowingly, I’d passed the first test. He continued.

“I want to share something with you, yet it must go no further than the boundaries of this phone line. Agreed?”

Was this my first obscene kung fu phone call? Curious, I agreed.

“Sifu Jones,” the caller whispered, “I am a ninja.”

A ninja! I was speechless. I love ninjas. Since 1982, I’d studied any material available on the stealthy assassins. I’d read every book and article written by Stephen K. Hayes. Read Eric Van Lustbader’s novel Ninja, twice, and of course, watched the ultimate ninja movie of all-time, Chuck Norris’s The Octagon. I pulled in deep breath to calm my nerves. After fifteen years of study, I was finally able to speak with a ninja. Though I didn’t have his moves, I felt I did possess his intellect. We could speak as one.

“Incredible,” was all I managed to say.

“Indeed.”

“How long have you been a ninja?”

“A lifetime.”

“Wow. Where did you receive your training?”

He laughed, as a wise grandfather does whenever his grandson asked something stupid. “The entire geography of the world has been my training ground. Yet, as you know, Sifu Jones, I cannot reveal specifics.”

“Oh, of course.”

The ninja cleared his throat. “Sifu Jones, for years I have searched for a disciple. I recently arrived here in the States and after much study of you, your school, and your martial ability, I . . . well, we, have chosen you. Your mantis knowledge can greatly enhance our organization.”

Whoa! This was the happiest day of my life. Even better than when I was recruited by the Justice League.

“I’m honored, sir.” I glanced at the caller ID. It said unknown. “So you’re here in Tyler.”

“Again, I cannot answer that.”

Thinking about the we, and our organization, I asked, “Can you tell me your name, sir, and talk about your organization.”

He laughed again. “Sifu Jones, your testing of me is admirable. But no, I cannot.”

“I understand. What may I call you?”

“For now, that is not important. What is important is that we meet.”

“OK. When?” My pulse quickened when he didn’t answer. I quickly scanned the room to make sure he wasn’t already there. Finally, I heard what sounded like the squeaking of a chair and then the clicking of a computer keypad.

Another thirty seconds of silence he said, “Arrangements are being made for my associate to visit your school. You must understand, Sifu, you and I can never meet in public. Once my associate relays to me that you are onboard, we can proceed with a meeting place.”

OK. I knew this guy was nuts but now he’s venturing into psycho-nuts. I reached under my desk and made sure my .45 had a full clip. “Great,” I said. “Class begins tonight at 6:30. Have him stop by.”

“I’m afraid a class setting is unacceptable. He will arrive early; spend a few hours with you. There is much to discuss.”

“I’m in private classes until six,” I lied. “Tell him to be here by then.” No way was going to spend time alone with a psycho-ninja.

He sighed. “You’re an elusive warrior, Sifu Jones. Yet, that is why I chose you.” I heard more typing. “Yes, six will be fine. He will be there.”

I almost hung up when—“And, Sifu Jones . . .”

“Yes.”

“Welcome.”

At 6:25, cloaked in a cloud of smoke, the ninja’s associate arrived. He pulled up in a 1985 Buick. When he opened his door, a plume of cigarette smoke billowed from inside the car. I was disappointed when he climbed out and he wasn’t hooded. He had the rest of the ninja uniform, though.

I was expecting him to flip, or roll his way into the school but this poor guy could barely walk in. He could’ve been mid-forties but looked late sixties. His gray hair was in a tight ponytail and his goatee hung to his chest. Three diamond studs pierced his left ear.

I introduced myself. He nodded and said to call him “Bill”.

Knowing he would decline, I invited him to join class.

“I come only to observe, Sifu Jones.”

I had to back up. His breath reeked of cigarettes, coffee, and corn chips. He motioned to the waiting class. “Please proceed.” Funny, his voice sounded exactly like the ninja caller. I’d told my class that we may have a ninja visit us. So far, no one seemed impressed. With much effort, he eased onto the bench and watched.

A few minutes into our warm up, he waved me over. I had a student takeover.

“Yes,” I asked, sitting next to him.

“The mantis grabs, I don’t see the effectiveness.”

Oh brother. Was he already issuing a challenge? I had a student demonstrate grabs with me then I sat back down.

Mr. Ninja actually shook his head and clicked his tongue. “Still not convinced. The way of the ninja is fast and ferocious. Perhaps we’ve made a mistake choosing you. I must test you myself.”

I knew it. Sifu Fogg had warned me of nuts challenging new school owners. Normally, the sifu has senior students deal with challenges, but being open less than a year, I had no one. Sick of this ninja stuff, I stood and said, “Please demonstrate. He said he could only go half speed due to an injury he received while on mission in Peru.

Of course.

It happened so fast that my students didn’t even notice. Not his punch. Me jerking him to the ground.

When he punched, I plucked his wrist. Stumbling forward, he punched with his other hand. I grabbed it and pulled him to the floor. He smacked his knees on the hard tile. He groaned. Everyone stopped and looked. I told them to keep training.

Grabbing the bench, he stood, but not for long. His legs gave way and he had to sit. Two seconds of combat and he was completely out of breath. I offered him some water. He declined. Said he’d seen enough and would be in touch. He limped back to his car, fired up a cig, and drove away.

It’s been fourteen years and I’ve yet to hear from him – obviously I failed the test. Or maybe, just maybe, the ninja has been watching me all this time. Waiting for my skills to develop. Waiting for me to become worthy.

I too must wait.

Quit?

Friday, August 6th, 2010

As some of you may be aware, last weekend was our yearly national titling in Austin, Tx where many of the schools associated with The United States Kung Fu Exchange gather to test our upper level students.   This year, we had two students ready to title, Philip Anthony (Level 2) and Tina Knight (Level  1).   Both did very well and helped uphold the excellent reputation that our school has earned.  So be sure to congratulate them when you see them!!

Now on to my topic; Following the Titling on Friday night, we had Sigung Fogg’s workshop on Saturday.  We started around 8:30 with a warm up, followed by two seminars from Sifu Leverett and Sifu Medley, Lunch, a seminar by Sifu Jones, and then Sigung Fogg’s, ending around 4:30.  Since 7+ hours of Kung Fu is not enough, we moved outside (in the Austin summer heat) to play some hands.

After playing with several of my Kung Fu cousins, I had the pleasure of touching hands with Sifu Medley.    At this point, I was tired, very tired.  I fought myself to keep moving almost as much as I fought Sifu Medley.  My hands felt like they were filled with lead, and my feet felt like they had begun melting into the concrete on which we stood (not even having started yet).  I felt like I was moving in slow motion, barely able to move to attempt to deal with the incoming attacks.  Then something amazing happened, which has happened many times before, and I was hoping would occur, It got FUN.   The weariness drained away, clearing my mind, pulling energy from where my body stored it, using it to keep me alive (and loving it).   Time outside of the hands ceased to matter and passed without my knowledge (estimated at around 20 min or so). I was keenly aware of my surroundings, but my focus was wholly upon the Kung Fu master in front of me.  When we finally stopped, around 6:40pm, Sifu Medley said “You Tyler guys don’t know how to quit.” “No Sir.” was my response.

Quit.  To Give Up.  To Admit Defeat.  – “No Sir” I will have none of that.  And neither will Sifu.   I’m told that the inability to give up is a character flaw.  I do not accept that.

At Tyler Kung Fu and Fitness, we do not quit.  Not when so tired we want to fall down.  Not when our family is in danger.  Not when everything seems hopeless.  Not Ever.   It is the same attitude that produces survivors in otherwise fatal instances (Read ‘Deep Survival’ by Laurence Gonzalas ).  It’s the same attitude that makes the Navy SEALS and Army Rangers the best in the world.

There is nothing in this universe that will make me give up on my beliefs, my family, or my friends.

Quit?  Not a chance.

The Hole Inside

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

The Kung Fu that Sifu Jones teaches fills the hole inside me. Wow, what a statement. Let me clarify. I believe that most of us at some point feel incomplete. That we’re missing something in life. But we continue on doing the same old thing. Work, sleep, eat, entertain ourselves, go to church, spend time with family, etc.: all the things that we have found that we need. But what if you still feel that something is missing? Then you read a book, watch a movie or meet someone. And then you think, “What about martial arts?”. Then you start looking at different schools in your area. You go to some classes, maybe you participate or just sit and watch. You have searched online, looking for advice about how to choose a martial art. You have read hundreds of articles about which one is the best. But the problem is that everyone says that theirs is the best. Karate is the best; no, Tae Kwon Do is the best; no, Kung Fu is the best; no Aikido is the best; no, Boxing is the best. You get so confused about which is the best that you think that you’ll just pick the cheapest school because they’re all the same. Then you go to one more school to try it out. You walk up expecting the same old thing. But during you time there, you start to feel good, excited to be learning, and part of the group. At the end of class you go to the instructor and ask about how to join. You don’t wait for anyone to ask you if you are interested, you just know that this is what you want to do. You have found what you were missing.

I think that choosing the right martial art for you is a combination of the right instructor and the right style. It’s not about which style everybody says is the best. It’s not about which school has the nicest instructor and staff. It’s about finding the right place for you.

Lethal Weapon

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

The first action you must take after achieving your black belt is to register your hands as lethal weapons. It’s you civic duty to inform society how dangerous you are.

I remember the day I did. It was a horribly miserable August afternoon. Bleeding, bruised, and covered in dirt, from already enduring a twelve hour test, I was standing in the middle of a field with ten Eagle Claw masters circled around me. At once, all ten warriors attacked me for the final phase of my black belt exam.

Moving with the grace of a ballet dancer, my hands and feet shot out like exploding grenades. I moved faster than the wind. Within seconds, my opponents were eating grass and begging their master not to make them attack again. I stared at the master, showed him my mantis claw. He ran away, leaving his injured students behind. My Sifu was so impressed with my ability he told me to go immediately to the police station and register my hands.

Arriving at police headquarters, I informed them of my lethalness. Out of nowhere, this huge cop grabs me and tries to throw me down.

How silly of him.

Careful not to injure the officer, I made sure he landed on top of his desk instead of the floor when I flipped him using the secret tiger leaps from mountain and kills pregnant antelope technique. The entire department gasped in awe as the big man sailed over my shoulder. The officer who attacked me rolled off his desk and offered a handshake. Said he did that as a test to everyone who comes in to register their hands. I nodded, smiled, adjusted my new black belt, and shook his hand.

From there, officers led me down a dark narrow hallway. They blindfolded me, pushed me into a room that smelled of gunpowder and burnt rubber and locked the door. I could hear water dripping somewhere. Though completely blind, I sensed others in the room. I drew a deep breath and centered my chi as I prepared to use the blind monk escapes the cave and attacks one-legged merchant in village technique. I quickly exhaled. I was now one with the room.

For the next seven hours, I went through a series of grueling tests that involved handcuffs, shotguns, tennis balls, ninja stars, smoke bombs, Taser guns, and a live goat.

At the conclusion, the chief of police said he was sure glad I was one of the good guys, but being that he’d never seen anyone as amazing as me, I needed to register my hands and feet. I agreed. Just registering my hands wasn’t being totally honest. With my killer kicks, I actually equaled two lethal weapons.

I filled out the proper forms, swore in before the judge of my lethalness, took the oath only to use kung fu when in danger, and was issued the official Lethal Weapon card. (Only Mel Gibson and I carry multiple lethal weapon cards). The police even gave me a small badge that I must wear whenever I’m in public that informs people that I’m a hands-registered black belt.

Of course, the story above is false-well; some parts of it-but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve been asked if a person must register their hands once they become a black belt.

The answer is an absolute NO. Registering your hands is an urban legend, a Hollywood myth. There is no such registry and research has failed to reveal any statutory, regulatory, or other requirements that boxers or martial artists must register their hands.

I did read, however, of several court cases where jurors considered a defendant’s MA or boxing experience when deciding the outcome of their case. In 1988, (Wyo. 1988) the Wyoming Supreme Court convicted a man of aggravated assault for punching someone in the head. The defendant’s training in boxing supported the jury’s findings on his mental state. I also discovered a website where you can pay $34.95 to register your hands with this company. I wish I’d thought of that marketing idea.

Bottom Line: As martial artists, the courts hold us to a higher standard than regular civilians, as we should be. Discipline and control is the cornerstone of martial arts. Just use common sense. If you are at the grocery store and a guy bumps into you, don’t break his leg. However if someone is in your home to kill, steal, or destroy, then all bets are off.      You unleash on them.

That goes for terrorists attacking you on a plane. I have no problem using the kung fu master completely decimates the lunatic screaming “death to infidels” technique.

Committed or Interested?

Monday, November 16th, 2009

There’s a difference between interests and commitment. When you’re interested in something, you do it only when circumstances permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results. – Art Turock

Think about that quote for a moment. It reveals the secret to success.

Commitment.

That’s the answer. Whether for the practice of kung fu, piano, writing, saving money, and even in marriage, consistent, committed practice is the absolute must for triumph.

I found that quote inside Reader’s Digest when I was in college. I guarded it like a cherished proverb and kept it crumpled inside my wallet for years. In ’96 when TKFF opened its doors, I drove a thumbtack through it and it has since yellowed on my office wall. Over the years, Turock’s quote has both inspired me and haunted me. In times of waning endurance, the words fueled my stamina. Other times, I wish I’d never read the beast.

One rainy December day I was to meet Sifu Fogg at the park for a training session to prepare me for my Sifu test coming up that summer. The high was 25, the wind chill 18, and the freezing sleet sliced through your coat and skin. I was so relieved when he canceled due to the weather but he reminded me that I could still train, “because I was young and the cold was good for me.”

Great. Just what I wanted to hear. I pulled the blanket over my head with no intentions of going outside when Turock’s words stung my psyche more than the sleet outside would sting my exposed skin.

Committed or Interested? I asked myself. I threw back the wool blanket, got dressed, and ran to the park.
Consider this bit of info shared by Karen Eden in Ma SUCCESS magazine, December 2009 issue. She states:

• For every 10,000 who sign up for martial arts, fifty-percent quit the first month.
• The remaining 5,000, half will drop in the second month.
• 1,000 will go six months / 500 will go a year.
• 100 students will go two years.
• 3 will receive 1st degree-black level.
• ONLY ONE of 10,000 will become a master instructor.

That’s amazing stuff! Does everyone want to be a master instructor? Of course not, but you understand the pattern. Commitment equals success. What are your goals? Will you achieve them? Will I?

Committed or Interested. Which are you?

Karate: The Way of Elvis

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

People often ask me if Kung Fu, or specifically mantis, is the only martial art I’ve done. My initial response is yes. I’ve practiced Mantis exclusively since 1982.

However, before I found the Fu, I found Karate . . . Elvis Style!

When I was six, I watched this huge man shatter a brick with his fists at a park demonstration, advertising for a weeklong, beginner Karate camp. I begged and my parents signed me up. I fell asleep that night, excited about breaking that brick.

At 8:45 the next morning, sixteen kids ages six to twelve, and parents, lined up outside the community center. Class was to begin at 9:00. By 9:20, the instructor rolled up in a loud, dirty pale yellow Volkswagen Van. Smoke billowed from the tailpipe. He and his ultra-skinny hippy girlfriend got out and walked to the front door. I was confused. This wasn’t the same guy I saw demolish the brick in the park. This guy looked like Elvis. Not the heartthrob of the 50’s Elvis; the slob of the 70’s Elvis.

Wavy black hair, bushy sideburns, gut to his knees. He sported a tight baby blue terry-cloth jogging suit. Coffee stains streaked the front by the zipper and sweat stains ringed the armpits. Shiny white Nikes with a blue stripe covered his feet, unlaced. His girlfriend had stringy blond hair and her long was neck hidden behind colored beads. She wore a green halter-top, short-short cut-off jeans, and was barefooted. Her toenails were painted red, white, and blue. With no apology for his tardiness, Master Elvis said he was the karate teacher. He unlocked the community center door and told our parents what time to be back. Miss Elvis just hummed and laughed a lot, like some imaginary friend was telling her jokes.  

Once inside, he divided us into two lines by height. Some kid asked where the man was who broke the brick. Master Elvis sneered at him, chewed on a toothpick and said the man was just his helper. “I’m the master teacher,” he said. “And today we learn how to punch.”

Cool, I thought. I waited for him to grab one of the bricks stacked next to the door and punch it in two. Instead, the big man stood before us, rolled his shoulders and cracked his neck side to side. Miss Elvis was impressed. She said, “Whoa, baby” every time her big Teddy Bear moved. She sat cross-legged on the floor braiding her hair.

In one smooth move, Master Elvis spit out the toothpick and unzipped his baby blue jacket. More belly fell out, stretching his white undershirt to the max. Kids in the front row gasped and stepped back.

He looked up and lifted his hands as if receiving instructions from Heaven. He started this weird breathing. Everyone got quiet. His massive body swayed. I was afraid he’d fall over and land on the short red-headed kid in the front row. He dropped his hands and stopped sucking the air. He had a scowl on his face like he’d just bitten a pickle dipped in peanut butter. I thought he was getting sick. Suddenly his arms snapped to the sides, his thumb-sized index fingers pointed in each direction. His leg began to twitch. I’d never seen Caine on Kung Fu do this before. A few kids giggled.

Faster than I thought a fat man could move, Master E pulled his arms to his hips, yelled Keeya, and punched the air. The only girl in the group cried. He did this several times and within seconds sweat poured off his round red face.

Master E told us to go find a mattress and punch it until he said stop. He collapsed on a small chair and had a smoke. Half his butt cheeks hung over the sides. Along the wall behind us were rows of pee-stained mattress stacked to the ceiling. I found out later, that on weekends, homeless people slept at the community center. We must’ve moved too slowly to the mattresses because he screamed NOW and we ran for it. The girl cried even more.

I punched the side of a mattress until my hands cramped. One kid cut his knuckles on protruding bedsprings and bled everywhere, and at least three kids fell victim to an avalanche of falling mattresses.

Elvis sat, sweated, and smoked. Miss Elvis braided her hair and hummed California Dreaming by the Mamas & the Papas.

Finally, our master teacher announced he would break a brick using the punching technique that he’d just “taught” us. I just wanted to get away from the filthy beds. My hands stunk.

With the strut of a lone rooster inside chicken pen, Master Elvis walked to the bricks, stacked three on the floor, did his whole Keeya dance-leg twitch-thing, then slammed his fist down.

The brick didn’t budge. He said someone talking, made him lose focus. He tried again. Nothing happened. Three attempts later, the bricks broke and so did Master E’s hand. He wailed curse words, cradled his bleeding hand to his chest. Miss Elvis said, “Whoa, baby”, and ran to his side. Now everyone was crying, including Elvis. He told us to call our parents. Karate camp was over. We raced for the only payphone next to bathrooms.

Miss Elvis wrapped her man’s hand in his baby-blue jogging suit jacket. It turned purple from all the blood. He moaned and stumbled as she helped him to the van. Before he climbed in though, he managed to light another cigarette. She jumped behind the wheel and floored the gas pedal. Void of adult supervision, we just stood there in awe, watching the van skid out of the parking lot.

Elvis had just left the building.

Forms vs. Fighting

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

I get this a lot: “I just wanna fight. Not waste time learning forms.”

OK, I understand that way of thinking—for beginners. And I agree, however you will only remain a beginner if you keep that mindset.

That’s not true! What about UFC? Those guys don’t practice forms. They just fight and get better.” I hear that a lot too, or, “Bruce Lee didn’t do forms. He studied every art and threw out the unnecessary forms.” Both of these are false statements.

The whole forms verses fighting thing is really a moot point. The argument comes from totally misunderstanding what a form is. A form doesn’t mean hundreds of moves. A form is simply techniques linked together. Look at boxers. They don’t have forms per se but they shadow box with a flurry of hooks, jabs, crosses, uppercuts, and they do it over and over again. And guess what? Over time, the moves become totally embedded into their muscle memory, which is the point of forms or drills training.

In the UFC, each week these great athletes train like crazy, repeating the same techniques in the air, on bags, then on each other. Is that not forms training? And Bruce Lee did Wing Chung, a style which has forms. Wing Chung gave Mr. Lee his base as a fighter. Without forms training, how else would those techniques have gotten into his body? Michael Jordan practiced millions of free throws without even holding a ball. Tiger Woods practices his swing without hitting a ball.

Do you see the point? Forms training is fighting. It’s putting the techniques into your body so you don’t have to think about them. Many times, in fighting with my kung fu brothers or my students, I’ll do something and say, “Whoa, where’d that move come from?” It came from forms. I didn’t make it up. The problem is when an instructor can’t pull the moves from the forms and then show you how to actually use the techniques in combat. In that case, yes, from a fighting perspective, forms are useless.

Black Rings – Dying but Determined

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009
This is the final post in the Black Rings series. Thank you for stopping by.

Finally! I collapsed to my knees and was ready to crawl out the door when I realized that if I left, Sifu would see me as a quitter. I struggled back to my feet and began again, but Sifu said I would have to finish outside because he had to leave. I followed him outside, each step sending my legs into crippling cramps. He told me again I could go home, the words taunting me like a cup of cool water to a desert wandering man. Every quaking cell in my body wanted to say OK but I shook my head “no” and continued. It took another thirty minutes to get to 350 and to redo the twenty Sifu told me were terrible. My dad was a great support and agreed to wait for me. He took a nap inside the car while I was out on the hot asphalt under a streetlight with June bugs dive-bombing my face, feeling like I was slowly killing myself.

Finished, I dragged my body to the car. I removed my jacket and squeezed it out like a wet rag. My white t-shirt was practically transparent and my pants clung to my quivering legs. I slid into the passenger seat and reached to close the door when something caught my eye. At first, I thought it was a shadow cast by the car’s interior dome light, but upon further study, I realized I was looking at the same black rings around my socks that I had noticed earlier around the other students. I smiled, though I couldn’t believe I actually had the muscle capacity to do so.

The black rings were from sweat dripping off the bottom of the black Kung Fu pants and staining my white socks. I closed the door and melted into the seat. I glanced at my socks again. How cool was this. I was one of them. It was awesome. I too had earned the black rings.

So, what’d I do? The natural action any twelve-year old boy would do. I hid those socks under my bed until the next night and wore them again. That went on for about three days until I was afraid the socks would disintegrate from compounded funk. Now that I think about it, that explains why at the end of the week no one in Kung Fu class wanted to be my partner.